Canada Day in the North – Timmins – Day 3

Family Hollinger Pit Mine

The kids were up at the crack of dawn on Day 2 to play with some of my cousin’s toys they had seen when they fell asleep the night before. After prying them away from the Groovy Girls, they descended upon the kitchen for a “dream breakfast”. There were 8 different options of breakfast cereal available for us to choose from. It was like a kid’s version of an omelet bar. I ate Apple Jacks (I didn’t know they still existed) while the kids ate a mixture of cereals. Good start to the day as all the eating and playing had us leaving a little later than expected.

Before leaving Lively I made sure those bikes were buckled in tight. I was tired of stressing over them falling off so took my time to find the “optimal” configuration. I did such a good job, I took pictures so that I would remember how to replicate it.

We also realized after day 1, that our packing strategy needed to be tweaked. It was just too much effort to bring each of our luggage down from the roof each night. What we needed for the future was a grab bag of a small set of clothes for each of us together. Also, putting toiletries in the trunk was also idiotic. For the most part, we want the trunk to be storage and we need to be able to grab any gear we need from the back seat without doing all the Jenga.

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And we are off – Sudbury – Day 1

Were we anxious the night before? Absolutely. For some reason, everyone slept in the same room even though that will probably be the norm for the next few months. We got up too early (4 o’clock), did our walk, “fed” the kids (if you can count a breakfast of cucumbers as a meal) and posed for the obligatory Day 1 picture in front of the tree. Paigey wanted to take the picture to see how much or how little we change when we get back. If I don’t come back with a better tan, I’ll be surprised.

Anyways we were so anxious we actually packed the jeep the night before and hoped no one broke in. All I had to do was “fight” with the bikes and get them mounted on the back. I imagine many of my future posts will be ranting about the bike hassles. Morning departure was a breeze and we were on the road by 9am.

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Last Minute Scrambling – 1 day to go

Gear for Camping Piles

A thousand days of planning and somehow I am left scrambling the day before. We were making good progress but then our youngest got sick the other day and that threw a wrench into things. We are just happy she had wrapped up the last of her play dates and birthday parties this past weekend. So for the last couple of days, she’s been staying at home watching me attempt to fit a ridiculous amount of gear into a finite space. That and watching TV. I think she knows TV will be hard to come by and is getting all the viewing she can right now.

Anyways, we’ve crossed off a bunch of loose ends this last week.

Storage – We rented a small locker to store the items our renters probably don’t need or want to see. It is pretty much full now. One final run to today and then I will padlock it and see it again in a year. I am embarrassed to say it, but I would not be upset if 75% of the stuff were to disappear.

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Our Goals for the Canada Leg – 20 days to go

Children Books Worksheets

Get ready to roll your eyes and shake your heads as I share some things we are hoping to accomplish during the Canadian Leg of our trip. These aren’t so much travel list checkboxes but rather goals for the next few months. Whether we do these or not, we at least WANT to do them. When we get back we’ll reflect on how many of these we managed to see through.

Food / Dining

Eat fries just once a week. Yep, even I recognize this will probably go by the wayside when I see two chip trucks on the same day of driving. Or when I have to order a “fish and NO chips”. That just doesn’t sound right at all.

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Trial Camping Run – 29 days to go

A week ago, we loaded up the vehicle and did a trial run to see how prepared we were for the cross-Canada leg of our trip. We had not had the chance to “field test” some of our gear and wanted to try it out during a three-day camping trip at a nearby provincial park.

I borrowed my dad’s Jeep, installed the roof carrier and attached the bikes onto the back. I struggled with the roof carrier as it took me a while to figure out that I was blocking the locking mechanisms which was preventing it from closing. Once I figured that out, I spent a couple hours loading up the vehicle to determine the best packing configuration. I had two main goals: I wanted to have an unobstructed view out the rear window and the kids needed to have an unencumbered ride (i.e. nothing at their feet or beside them). We managed to achieve both of those goals. In the future, I’m hoping I can do better than two hours.

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Credit Cards & Cash – 34 days to go

Foreign Conversion Fee Credit Card

We have had a couple posts about the fun stuff, now it is time for some money matters Any dollar I can save is something Isabella can spend later at LEGOLAND. For some reason, I showed the kids LEGOLAND clips on YouTube and now we have to fit that into the budget. So here are two ways we plan to stretch our dollar.

Let’s start with credit cards. From the beginning, we wanted two different branded cards on the trip (a Visa and an Amex). If one particular card was not accepted, or one got compromised then we would always have a backup. This never was a necessity in our daily life so we needed to go hunting for a new card. Where to begin? Fortunately, there are amazing sites out there that showed us the pros and cons of the different credit card offers. Type “best credit cards in Canada” into Google, and you’ll have enough reading material for weeks. During our research, we realized we should have cards we used BEFORE we travel (i.e. during the planning) and then cards we should use when we were ACTUALLY TRAVELLING. This was new for us and so far it has saved us a large bucket of money.

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Logistics Update – 45 days to go

Camping Supplies Totes Backpacks

Since the itinerary has been discussed recently I thought of giving an update on some of the other progress we have made. The other day Paige and I were remarking that we still have some things to take care of but it feels like a lot of the “heavy-lifting” is done.

Getting the Jeep Ready – We got roof rails installed (my dad actually did it) and we bought a second-hand Thule cargo carrier for the roof. We also have car seat organizers for the kid’s stuff. We just need to put new tires on the vehicle, get it serviced and she is ready to go. We are actually outfitting the Jeep for a trial camping run this weekend with all the gear.

Bikes for the Road Trip – We replaced the stolen adult bikes with second-hand bikes and got them serviced. We purchased bike locks and have confirmed that the children’s helmets fit. Now we just have to get Julie off training wheels.

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Canada West Coast Plan – 125 days to go

Google Map driving directions Kluane National Park Vancouver

This is our projected itinerary for the second part of our cross-Canada journey. It picks up where Part 1 left off. The purpose of this leg is to get us down the west coast to Vancouver. There’s some decent mileage to cover but a far more relaxed atmosphere once we get to Vancouver Island. But getting there is half the fun right?

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Updates to the Route – 144 days to go

Canada Map Driving Route Canada Toronto Kluane

So as the days get closer, the excitement and nervousness builds. We are making progress as we have knocked a bunch of things off the list. All our vaccinations are wrapped up and paid for. We replaced the bikes that were “stolen”. We applied for new credit cards and opened a new bank account. And we have had fun conversations with friends and family about our plans. Recently a friend of mine told me: “You are supposed to be planning a trip around the world, when are you going to tell me something exciting about it”. So I’ve taken her advice and unlike previous posts about logistics, this one is focused solely on the journey. That is to say, no talk about budgeting, insurance or money, just places and things to look forward to.

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Vaccination Progress – 200 Days to go

Canada Government International Vaccine Certificate

Back in spring, I started researching vaccine requirements for the trip (the non-Covid ones). This past week we started seeing this research turn into reality as the family got a bunch of shots. The process has been interesting and chock-full of learnings.

For context, I went ahead and started my vaccination progress back in April. We decided I would try and figure out the best way to get it done and then the other family members would follow suit. I went online, found a local travel clinic, did a consultation and then signed up for a bunch of shots. The consult was done over the phone and it felt like a business transaction. A bunch of forms were sent back and forth with details of the trip, my medical history and personal information. It did not really feel like a medical appointment. Regardless, I checked some boxes, got some shots and spent some money. For the rest of the family, we decided to do a “family” consultation with a different travel clinic. It was eye-opening as I thought it would be standard across the clinics. Fortunately, the recommendations were consistent across the two, but the education, cost and service were very different. We decided to get the family’s battery of tests through the second clinic. My personal takeaway is that even though the situation was really a one-and-done type scenario, it makes sense to shop around. Yes, we ended up paying a couple consultation fees but our peace of mind and cost savings justified that expense.

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